Laura Vanderkam’s stripped-down, highly-useful definition of work

You know how some people use a mildly profane word to substitute for actual thinking?

For example: 

When someone uses crap (or shit or fucked upwhen they mean, alternately, the annoyances in their day, the mess in their home, how their body feels, what their coffee tastes like, what they think about political discourse, a friend’s appearance, the excesses of digital connection, the degree of imbecility they have to put up with from co-workers or the public or service personnel….

Words matter. Definitions matter. Sloppy thinkers lead sloppy lives mired in slop. 

<pausing a moment to let that outburst pass>

Effective thinking hacks like a machete at the unnecessary.

Do you want a definition of work that will clear your day of trivia? 

Here you go.

Laura Vanderkam defines work as activities that advance you toward the career and lifestyle you want.


Otherwise it’s not really work.

It’s clarifying, isn’t it, to have a concise definition of what constitutes real work for you. I know for me it does. Asking this question of myself eliminates emails I needn’t write, phone calls I needn’t make, energy I needn’t expend.

Even better, I can eliminate paths I don’t need to trod . . . because they’re not taking me in the direction of my career and lifestyle goals.

For an entrepreneur and a creative, it’s a thicket out there. Every idea seems like a good one. Every invitation is a potential connection . . . or story . . . or insight . . . or breakthrough.

Whatever helps us whack away the weeds is good. Maybe Vanderkam’s decluttered definition of work will be a good tool for you too.

Here it is again . . . yeah, I know this is all digital . . . you can scroll back up and take in its breathtaking simplicity with the flick of a finger . . . but I’m going to save you that effort so you can apply that energy to something enjoyable . . . that dream lifestyle you’re creating . . . without further ado, ladies and gentlemen . . . Laura Vanderkam’s definition of work, one more time:

Activities that advance you toward the career and lifestyle you want.

For you 

Evan Griffith
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Praying to die
Oh Wayne Dyer, we're gonna miss you